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Park Police Spokesman Holds News Conference on White House Shooting

Aired February 7, 2001 - 3:37 p.m. ET


BOBBIE BATTISTA, HOST, CNN "TALKBACK LIVE": Dwight, let me interrupt you for just a second, I'm sorry. There's another briefing going on with the Park Police. Let's drop in on that for just a second.


SGT. ROB MACLEAN, U.S. PARK POLICE: ... single shot was fired by law enforcement personnel. A single shot was fired by a member of the uniform division, Secret Service emergency response team. That shot did strike the subject in the leg. At this point, that's the only shot we can confirm. Whether witnesses heard shots prior to that or during that, obviously, will be part of our investigation. Our detectives are interviewing numerous witnesses as well as law enforcement personnel on scene as well as the officer that fired the shot, as well as the subject up at the hospital.

QUESTION: Do you know at this point whether he threatened (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MACLEAN: As far as his intent or mental capacity, we don't know that yet. The subject was in and out of consciousness in the hospital. Like I said, the wound is non-life threatening. However, he was in and out of consciousness. So, obviously, our interview has to go with his condition. So we will know more later on when he's better apt in answering our questions. The Secret Service obviously has questions for the subject because of the proximity to the White House. The U.S. Park Police being the lead agency obviously has questions for the subject as well, as well as other agencies.

QUESTION: ... on the substance of his ranting and raving or the dialogue, the 10 to 15 minute dialogue?

MACLEAN: I don't have that at this point. One other thing I can confirm is that we are looking for his -- a vehicle he may have driven into this area. Obviously, we can't release any make or model or tag number because law enforcement -- we at law enforcement want to be the first people to find this vehicle. We don't want this information put out. It may jeopardize the integrity of our investigation as well as where the subject is from. I can tell you that he is from out of the D.C. area. If I tell you where he is from, obviously, we won't be the first people to talk to his relatives, to his neighbors, from his place of residence. So at this point, we can't release that information either.

QUESTION: At this point, we're being told he's from Edmonston, Illinois. We're also being told that the reason the metropolitan police officer shot was that he heard shots being fire. We're also being told that his car has already been confiscated. So that's coming from -- we're being told this by White House officials who are quoting Secret Service agencies.

MACLEAN: OK, I just spoke with a representative from the Secret Service, and that's all the information I can confirm. That's the problem you come into when there's numerous sources putting out information. We don't want to jeopardize our investigation, so I will not confirm the person's name, I will not confirm where the person is from, because we, as the U.S. Park Police, do not want to jeopardize our investigation. So whether other agencies are putting that information out, we cannot confirm that.

QUESTION: Do you have a vehicle you think may be his?

MACLEAN: Yes, we are looking for a vehicle that we think may be his.

QUESTION: Do you have that in your possession?

MACLEAN: I don't believe we do at this point.

QUESTION: How far was the secret uniform division, Secret Service from the man who was shot?

MACLEAN: I do not know exactly how far it was from. The information I have he was inside the White House grounds.

QUESTION: Was he a sniper?

MACLEAN: I don't know what caliber weapon was used, whether -- he is a member of the emergency response team which do have assault type weapons, automatic weapons. However, I don't know whether it was handgun that was used or whether it was a specialized type of weapon that he carried.

QUESTION: From the roof?

QUESTION: Was he near the scene of the shooting?

MACLEAN: The information I have is near the scene.

QUESTION: So he was like one of the officers that was right around him?



MACLEAN: Yeah, I believe the shot was fired from inside the fence.

QUESTION: He was on the outside of the fence?

MACLEAN: Correct.

QUESTION: What, he stuck his hand through the fence?

MACLEAN: The person that fired the shot from law enforcement was on the inside of the fence. I don't know whether back from the fence or up close to the fence.

QUESTION: Was there something in particular the man did that provoked the officer to shoot?

MACLEAN: Well, the subject pointed a weapon at himself at the White House and was waving it around as pedestrians were walking by. Yes.

QUESTION: Have you found out if there was ever a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) mental illness at all?

MACLEAN: We have not. As I said, he was in and out of consciousness up at the hospital. So as far as a thorough, comprehensive evaluation of his condition, we won't have that until he regains fully from being unconscious so that we can better ask him questions.

QUESTION: But I'm also asking are you looking into that given that you do know his identity and you do know where he's from? Are you going to be doing a trace (UNINTELLIGIBLE), seeing any doctors in Illinois at all?

MACLEAN: Absolutely. And, obviously, with what transpired here today in proximity to the White House, a psychiatric evaluation would be definitely an avenue that we would pursue as an investigative agency.

QUESTION: We continue to hear from eyewitnesses that more shots were fired than just that one shot that hit the suspect in the leg. Can you confirm that, that the suspect may have actually fired his weapon before he was hit?

MACLEAN: I can't confirm that. We can confirm that one shot was fired by law enforcement personnel. We do realize that there were several witnesses that made these statements to the media reference shots fired prior to the arrival of law enforcement or maybe when law enforcement was on the scene. At this point, we can't confirm that. Obviously, ballistic tests on the firearm that the subject had would pin that down, whether his weapon was fired or not.

QUESTION: In terms of a follow up, have you determined who exactly was -- from what law enforcement agent first saw this man outside the gate?

MACLEAN: Yeah, the information I have was the D.C. police officer that was driving on E Street first encountered the subject.

QUESTION: Sergeant, have you confirmed whether the officer (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MACLEAN: I have not been able to confirm or deny that.

QUESTION: Officer, this afternoon, there's also been a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) materials leak over at the Treasury. Is this in any way a diversion type tactic? Are you trying to determine whether each of these incidents are interrelated?

MACLEAN: I don't know if the Hasnet (ph) team was involved with this case or not. That would be something that the Treasury Department would probably have to answer.

QUESTION: No, but with that particular spill occurring just at the same rough time that this occurred, would it be like a diversion in any shape or form?

MACLEAN: I wasn't even aware that there was a spill. Obviously, the detectives and the investigators will definitely look into that if it did occur around the same time that this incident happened.

QUESTION: Do you have any more information on the weapon, what type it was?

MACLEAN: At this point, we're not prepared to release any ballistics or any types of weapon that it may have been, whether it was a revolver or semi-automatic. The detectives on the case have informed me that later on tonight or tomorrow morning, obviously, we'll get together with the Secret Service, with uniform division Secret Service and other agencies involved and do a more comprehensive press release that would more fully map out what transpired here today. Obviously, all the information coming from me because we are the lead agency in this case, but obviously, there's concerns of all these agencies involved as far as what information gets released and what doesn't. So at this point, we're withholding that information but it will be forthcoming.

QUESTION: Do you know his occupation?

MACLEAN: I'm not aware of his occupation.

QUESTION: Does he have a criminal history. You know his name. You've done the background check, I'm sure on it.

MACLEAN: I'm sure there probably was one. I don't have the information whether he has a criminal history. Obviously, it will be part of our investigation.

QUESTION: Has he been charged?

MACLEAN: At this point, what normally happens is a psychiatric evaluation is done prior to charging the subject. And obviously, if he's competent to stand trial, that will be determined by the United States attorney's office and all those types of entities. As far as whether he's charged or not will be a consultation between law enforcement agencies and with the U.S. attorney's office.

QUESTION: Sergeant, can you tell us anymore about what prompted the law enforcement officer to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MACLEAN: The only information I have, like I stated, is that he was brandishing a weapon. He did point at the White House and himself as well as pointing it around the area where there were pedestrians. Now whether this happened directly before the shot was fired or not, I don't have the actual timeline on that. But, obviously, he was putting himself in danger. He was putting everybody on the scene in danger with the weapon he was brandishing.

QUESTION: How many members are there to the emergency team response team that you just mentioned? And how many people -- law enforcement officials ended up at the scene who (UNINTELLIGIBLE) it happened?

MACLEAN: I don't know because that's a unit run by the uniformed division Secret Service, not by the U.S. Park Police. And as far as number of officials of personnel on the scene, all I can say is there were numerous -- obviously, there was several agencies and it was a very volatile incident. So, therefore, it generated a major response from each affected law enforcement agency. But as far as exact numbers, I couldn't give you that.

QUESTION: Was the officer who shot him aiming for the knee? Was he trying to disable him rather than kill him?

MACLEAN: I don't know that. Obviously, the interview with the subject will -- the law enforcement officer that fired the shot will lead us to why he fired the shot and why if he did indeed try to aim at his leg or that kind of stuff.

QUESTION: Excuse me, I didn't hear this. Is it the D.C. police officer who first saw him? Is that the one that engaged him in conversation? And what was the content again of the conversation?

MACLEAN: I don't know the content, and yes, it was a D.C. police officer.

QUESTION: So he actually pulled over. And was it an officer on foot patrol or tell us a little bit more about the D.C. police officer.

MACLEAN: It's unclear whether he was in uniform or not. I believe initially there was one officer and then there may have been two. Whether they were in uniform, plain clothes, I don't have that information right now. And whether they were actually dispatched to the scene or heard this transaction on some type of radio or just happened by the incident.

QUESTION: Do you know where he's stationed, this officer? Is he -- what department. Can you identify that?

MACLEAN: He's from D.C. Police. I don't know his name. I don't know what district.

QUESTION: The agent that shot the suspect, is he on leave or is he still on the job, or what's his status? MACLEAN: I do not know the regulations of uniformed division Secret Service. Every agency has its own protocol when it comes to officer-involved shootings. So any type of questions like that would have to be directed to Secret Service.

QUESTION: Sergeant, are you planning on making any further announcements here today?

MACLEAN: I don't. I believe for the most part, the update that I just provided is pretty much it for right now. Now we get to the coordination stage where we'll sit down at the table, U.S. Park Police, Secret Service, uniformed division, and come up with more comprehensive, more accurate information. Obviously, there's many stories coming out on this incident from witnesses, from myself and from other entities. So better than giving out erroneous information, we're going to stop it right here for now after this is over and come up with a more comprehensive list of timelines and facts for you, the media, instead of giving out erroneous information.


BATTISTA: All right.



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